Monday, February 4, 2008

Romney ad attempts to move McCain to the left

As Super Sunday hype dissipates and Super Tuesday hype builds, voters in key states are facing another barrage of ads--this time from the candidates. And this Mitt Romney ad may be the one that says the most about the current political climate. Just a couple of the things it reveals:

  • On the Republican side, the race may very well come down to whether Romney can dodge questions about his inconsistent positions on the issues and instead cast doubt on McCain's conservative credentials. By literally and figuratively moving McCain to the left in this spot, the Romney camp reinforces its commitment to that strategy. Should the Republican race get any more contentious, the question isn't if McCain will counter with a detailed criticism of Romney's record as Massachusetts governor, but when.
  • There is no more polarizing political figure than Hilary Clinton (in fact, on the Democratic side her "electability" appears to be a primary issue motivating voters to support either her or Barack Obama). Romney's spot banks on conservatives' hatred (and I don't think that's too strong a word) of Clinton to tarnish McCain by association. From a purely strategic standpoint, that's a pretty decent gamble. But with the latest polls showing Obama pulling away from Clinton, it will be interesting to see how Romney will adjust his strategy if Clinton is still in the race on Wed. morning--assuming, of course, that Romney is still in the race himself.
Romney's spot is a study in how political candidates use the zeitgeist to differentiate themselves--and the powerful effect that a TV spot can have in reinforcing those points of differentiation.

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